Sunday, October 23, 2011

Rise and shine

Another month seems to have flown by and along with that comes a new theme for Mixology Monday.  This month's MxMo is graciously hosted by the group over at Cocktail Enthusiast, spearheaded by Kevin Gray.  As the description goes...

'The theme is “morning drinks.” Breakfast cocktails were the norm in the nineteenth century, when cocktails were a common beginning to one’s day. The drink’s purpose was to help the imbiber recover from the past night’s indiscretions and to steel their resolve for the coming day.

We’re all familiar with bloody marys, mimosas and bellinis, but what else constitutes a breakfast drink? We’re looking for corpse revivers, eye openers and hair of the dog – drinks that jump start your morning, absolve the prior night’s sins or just taste really good with eggs and bacon.

Maybe you like to fortify breakfast smoothies with gin. Or perhaps you’ve concocted an alcoholic sangrita that pairs nicely with migas. Regardless, let’s see some morning cocktails.'

Indeed I concur, it's about time for some new introductions to the a.m. cocktail crowdWhile Mimosas, Bloody Marys, and Bellinis have certainly served to kick start many a red-eyed overindulger from the prior night's self-induced haze, a fresh wave of cocktails would serve us all well to not only help broaden the variety, but ultimately make such transgressions more enjoyable.

I considered a few different approaches for this theme and dipped into both the sweet and savory realms of the cocktail world before settling on a classic and somewhat savory direction.  Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the first idea jumped at me rather quickly...a progression from the Bloody Mary.  While the classic obviously has its place, there are often times when I prefer not to suck on a spicy, astringent tomato first thing in the morning.  Quite commonly, many doctor the original up with a variety of peppery spices, pickled condiments, infused vodkas, etc...but beyond that, this tomatoey concoction has largely remained the same since its introduction back in the 1920/30s.  I thought this drink, or at least its tomato-focused profile, might benefit from a bit of renovation, if not a complete overhaul.  The primary reason being that whether it has been infused with peppers, citrus, or other ingredients, I find the flavors of vodkas in the Bloody Mary are too often masked by the overpowering profiles of the other components, most notably the piquant tomato.  And as such, I wanted to steer the direction of my cocktail towards a foundation that was more vegetal and botanical in nature.  Enter gin.

With the ever increasing number of small batch gins being produced today, there were many different paths from which to choose.  In part, I went with a slightly unique approach and created a tomato-infused gin with Hendrick's.  My thoughts were that the backbone of cucumber and citrus in Hendrick's would blend nicely with fresh, ripe tomatoes...and a bit of lemon zest along with hint of pepper to further reflect the components of the original cocktail. 

Tomato-infused gin
8 oz Hendrick's gin
1/3 lb cherry tomatoes, halved
2 wide strips lemon zest
4-6 peppercorns, cracked 

Add all ingredients to an airtight container and store in a cool, dark location for 5-7 days, shaking once daily.  Strain thru fine sieve or cheesecloth and store in a fresh bottle. 

As a natural compliment to the gin, I chose another house infused spirit at my disposal, cucumber vodka (Sobieski in this case).  I certainly didn't want to overpower or dilute the gin but figured that the addition of cucumber would provide a more refreshing character to the overall mix.  Along with this base, I evaluated a few different aperitifs with notable botanical profiles, specifically dry vermouths (Dolin/Noilly Prat) and a quinquina (Cocchi Americano).  The Cocchi Americano seemed best suited in the context of this drink, with a slight bitter edge relative to the vermouths and a touch sweeter to help balance the acidity of the lemon.  Add a couple dashes of celery bitters, and the morning starts out pretty nicely...

Off The Vine
2 oz tomato-infused Hendrick's gin
1/2 oz cucumber Sobieski vodka
1/2 oz Cocchi Americano
1/4 oz lemon juice
2 dashes Bitter Truth Celery bitters 

Shake all ingredients with ice and double strain into a chilled cocktail couple.  Garnish with a wide strip of lemon zest.  

Off The Vine

Although a bit of advanced prep is obviously called for here, while biased, I think it is well worth the minimal effort.  It definitely didn't remind me of a Bloody Mary, but brought the essential vegetal qualities of tomato and cucumber for a nice ride with a spirit forward gin and vodka kick.  It was certainly refreshing, very simple with everything on hand, and a cocktail I'll be certain to entertain others (and myself) with when last night's debauchery meets 'Round 2' the next morning.  

And of course, with all contributions now submitted and digested, here is the MxMo roundup, thanks once again to Kevin at Cocktail Enthusiast for the great theme and hosting, there are now plenty of terrific new cocktails to tweak your tastebuds in the a.m.

1 comment:

  1. Howdy neighbor- I hail from Chicago as well! I've been on a gin kick lately (used to think I hated ALL gin...) so I will definitely have to try this. Thanks for sharing it on MxMo! :)